Free Time

I’m in Bishop, California. Yesterday, I woke up at 6:30, made breakfast in my van, worked on my computer for two hours, and then went climbing. I came back by 4:00 for more work. My hands were covered in dust from the Owen’s River Gorge and I clanged away at my keyboard regardless. At 6:20 I set my computer to charge and snapped up my toiletries to grab a shower at the local pool. I’m a fast walker. I passed fifteen people at slower paces on the one block route to the pool. They were all families with girls of four to six years old heading to the park. The girls had pink baseball gloves and spangly hair ties and oversized jerseys. I finished my shower in under ten minutes and got back to work. I made phone calls, wrote stories, and went grocery shopping almost all at once. At night, before bed, I stopped. Finally. And all I could see were those little girls.

There is no way I could have caught their game. I didn’t have time for it. I was living my FULL life. My full life that often has no time for anything but going, because going is the only way to get THERE.

It’s a mania that is delicious and intoxicating. It’s living the dream, right? Self-employment, freedom to travel, time to climb? What’s wrong if this suddenly does not feel like the right path? I tell my friends that I might chuck it all and go to law school yet. I might get a desk job. They laugh. They don’t believe me. They should.

I spent my academic career being told I could do anything. I could incorporate photography, woodworking, independent studies in Nepal–even climbing–into my education. This is the ultimate drug of alternative and progressive schooling: “What do you want?” they asked us. “Go and get it,” they told us.

And we did, and now we still do. People all around me are trying to claim what they want and go and get it. Except I’m not sure this is always the best path. I’m not saying we should all go pick up a Brooks Brothers suit and head to the office—but maybe we should consider the power of stability.

We all say we are living these alternative lives for the lifestyle. But what’s so great about the scramble? About not being sure what is supposed to come next? Or how to get it? Or how to know once you have it? Free time, that’s what we tell each other. We work for ourselves and thus govern our time, creating more free time.

What if what we’re spending to get there is our selves? “Oh, Carla?” we say, “She bowed to the man and got a real job.” We say this as if we are superior. We say this and then fight not to notice Carla is the one at the park watching a young girl round the bases on her first home run.